January 20, 2012

What’s the FaithVillage story? An Interview with Brad Russell


To give our new readers a little backstory on FaithVillage (and whet your appetite for what’s to come) we recently sat down with Brad Russell, Senior Editor/COO, and tossed a few questions at him on your behalf.

Q:  We know you’ve been working on this passion project for a few years. Can you tell us a little about how FaithVillage came to be?

A: Well, Scott, this has really been an amazing journey. I recently posted  on Twitter something to the effect that “there is no shortage of good ideas, just a shortage of the guts to execute them.” The road from idea to implementation is never short or easy, so the process of building FaithVillage has challenged us a great deal to think creatively about ministry, plan strategically, and work persistently to see our vision become reality.
But about three years ago our team began developing a vision for building a new social network for faith resources.  We saw three big opportunities where we believed we could do some good.

The first is the opportunity to leverage new social media technologies to help build Christian community online. We’re not the first to see this, of course, but we believe there is still an opportunity to provide a compelling conversation space online where Christ-followers can expand their faith, share their experiences, recommend resources, and connect around causes they care about. There are some great new closed social media platforms for churches and there are general platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but there hasn’t been a free platform that offers both closed and open community-building in a faith-friendly space.

The second opportunity we see is to help people find good content online. There is a lot of great Christian content online … if you know where to look. The problem we have researched is that ordinary Christians often don’t really know where to go online. They are often frustrated with search engines.  And they get tired of wading through a lot of bad content to find the good stuff. We have this saying, that “Googling God is not good enough.” So, we want to surround our community with easy access to a wide range of quality articles, videos, podcasts, training experiences, news and more. We think putting community and good content together in one place is a powerful combination for churches.

Third, we see an opportunity to provide an online social platform for helping organizations build their tribe, collaborate online, and distribute their resources.  Rather than operate like a single-source web site, we envision a collaboration where churches, bloggers, publishers, universities, media, and Christian resource organizations, can all share space in a compelling online village. It certainly “takes a village” to fulfill our calling and we want to give that village full of organizations a place to work together online.

Q: So makes FaithVillage so special?

A: On the cool side, there’s the visual interface.  FaithVillage will give you a different kind of online experience by enabling you to walk up and down the street of a brick and mortar village and go in buildings like The Grove Theater, the Culture Lab, the Momentum Center for church leadership, and the Watermark Workshop for training experiences. We designed the village to be a fun and intuitive way to organize a wide range of content. When you set up your social media page, called your Loft, you are visually moving into FaithVillage, so it gives everyone a sense of community and belonging.

Another sweet feature is that the village experiences a 24-hour day so the visuals change from morning, to afternoon and nighttime. People keep asking if we can make it rain or snow. You’ll have to follow us and see!

On the more practical side, it’s free. So, individuals don’t need a subscription. Churches can adopt FaithVillage as their go-to resource site for the members, and it costs nothing.  Organizations can use it as their secure social media platform like Ning or other services, and it’s completely free. We think “free” is pretty special.

Q: So what other buildings, or content channels, can we expect to see?

A: We have quite a number of ideas that we will be introducing over time but when FaithVillage launches we plan to include:  Revolution Rec Center (youth), Epic House (collegiate life), FV University (Higher Education), Momentum (church leadership), Engage (causes and missional living), Culture Lab (faith and culture), Grove Theater (videos), Strive (Christian living), Momzie (moms), CityPod Studios (audio) , Newsstand (news), Scriptura (Bible study) and The Church at FaithVillage (devotionals and faith formation).  We will also have some custom partners who will be constructing their own buildings inside the village for their organization, university or cause.

Q: We have a growing number of church leaders who are following the launch of FaithVillage. What are three things church leaders should know about FaithVillage?

A: You know I have fifteen years’ experience as a pastor and church planter. We are all passionate about helping people become fully devoted followers of Christ. So the most important thing to know is that FaithVillage is designed to help you and your church grow. It will help you grow closer because community is always built on good and frequent communication. It will help you grow stronger in faith. You’re probably not going to buy your members magazine subscriptions or a lot of books, but you can send them all to FaithVillage to strengthen their faith. And it will help them grow wider in their vision for making a positive difference and help equip them for using their gifts for the good of others.

Q: FaithVillage is now available as this resource blog here at FaithVillage.com. What can we expect when the full site launches?

A: Next winter we will be launching our Beta phase when we will inviting all of our charter members to move in first, test the site, and give us feedback on how we can make it even better. You can sign-up now to be a charter member here on this site and in the fall we will invite you to move-in as an individual or bring your whole church or organization along. We’ll also offer a Move-In Plan to make that process smooth and easy. We’ll also be conducting a 40-day countdown tour through six metro areas in preparation for our general opening of the site, so come out and see us when we come to your city.

In the meantime, sign up and grab a badge on the Team FV page and start promoting to your friends. Let’s build something incredible together.

Originally posted on June 1, 2011

Originally Published: January 20, 2012
Category: Christian Living
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